Fergus Cosgrove (second from right, back) with other members of the Irish Futsal team.

Meath's Fergus Cosgrove part of Irish squad to welcome USA futsal players

Americans - and Irish - to take part in breakthrough Gormanston camp event

Members of the Irish Down Syndrome Futsal squad will part of a training camp later this month that also includes their counterparts from the USA.

The Irish squad includes Fergus Corgrove from Walterstown and he and his colleagues will be involved in this unique camp which will be held at Gormanston Park from Monday 20th May to Friday 24th May.

During the camp the Irish and Americans will train together and also play against each other in games on the Wednesday and Friday.

This will be the first international assignment for the USA squad, an affiliate of US Soccer, since they came together in early 2023.

The USA’s mixed gender squad consists of eight players. These will be joined by eight Irish squad players along with two upcoming development players at Gormanston Park - including the talented young Walterstown man.

Fergus represented Ireland in the SUDS European Athletics Championships in Padova, Italy, last September - although that was only half of the remarkable story.

The Walterstown teenager had travelled to Italy as part of the athletics squad and did very well too. He won a bronze medal in the triathlon event.

However when a player had to withdraw from the soccer team Fergus was asked to fill in as he had trained with the squad prior to the start of the Championships.

Fergus was more than happy to answer his country's call and played the game against a strong, skilful Italian side even through he had taken part in the 200m sprint final earlier that day.

Fergus was later part of the squad that were presented with their international caps by the FAI's Mark Canham.

Sport has been known to build bridges across nations, transcend cultures and bring people together. Great excitement is building in the local Down Syndrome sports community, as they look forward welcoming the USA Futsal team to the Emerald Isle.

Building on this, the Ireland and USA Down Syndrome Futsal Tour 2024 is due to kick off next week. County Meath will be the host of the first international tour of its kind.

Relations between the USA and Ireland have long been based on common ancestral ties and shared values.

The long term hope is that this tour will aid both teams in preparation for 2025 SUDS Futsal Championships.

Ireland’s Down Syndrome Futsal team competed in the European Championships in Italy last September. The squad had a jam-packed week, playing five games in four days. Turkey, Italy and Portugal the more seasoned teams had to stand their ground against the newcomers.

Futsal is a form of five-aside indoor football played with a smaller, heavier ball than football and is an ideal sport for Ireland as it is played from October to March.

Mark Trevor, Vice-President of Down Syndrome Sports of America commented: “We are absolutely honoured and thrilled to be invited by Ireland’s Down Syndrome Futsal team to train and compete with them in the Emerald Isle. Our players and coaches are looking forward to what will be a tremendous experience, i’m sure, both on and off the pitch!”

Captain of the Irish team, Josh Hennessy, is looking forward to train with the USA and making new friends with both players and coaches.

Futsal for players in Ireland is developing at a steady pace and those involved hope to foster a Futsal community both locally and internationally.

“A week like this, offers a lifetime of experiences to our players. Making new friends, improves their football skills and work towards barrier free sport for players with disabilities,” said DSI Louth Meath branch Sport co-ordinator Tessa van Heerden.